Is­lamist ex­trem­ists in Swe­den rise to 2,000

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Swe­den is home to some 2,000 Is­lamist ex­trem­ists, the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence chief said yes­ter­day, a nearly 10-fold in­crease in less than a decade. Anders Thorn­berg, head of do­mes­tic spy ser­vice Sapo, at­trib­uted the rise pri­mar­ily to the so­phis­ti­cated pro­pa­ganda ma­chine of the Is­lamic State group. Al­though “few ex­trem­ists” have “the will and abil­ity” to carry out at­tacks, they must be found and closely fol­lowed, Thorn­berg said.

“It’s im­por­tant that ev­ery­one in Swe­den takes re­spon­si­bil­ity to end this trend... be­fore we see an at­tack or a vi­o­lent act,” Thorn­berg told news agency TT in an in­ter­view pub­lished yes­ter­day. Swe­den has been on the edge ever since an Uzbek na­tional, who had shown sym­pa­thies for ji­hadist groups in­clud­ing IS, used a stolen truck to mow down pedes­tri­ans on a busy shop­ping street on April 7, killing five peo­ple and in­jur­ing 15. Europe has seen a string of at­tacks in re­cent years in­clud­ing large-scale as­saults in Paris Brus­sels and Berlin.

Thorn­berg said that out of around 3,000 vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists cur­rently in Swe­den, 2,000 have Is­lamist mo­tives. The re­main­ing ex­trem­ists orig­i­nate from far-right and ex­treme-left move­ments. A 2010 Sapo re­port es­ti­mated the num­ber of vi­o­lent Is­lamist ex­trem­ists in the Scan­di­na­vian coun­try at 200. Sapo has pre­vi­ously said that about 300 peo­ple from Swe­den are known to have trav­elled to Syria and Iraq to join IS since 2012.

Around 140 have re­turned to Swe­den and about 50 are said to have died abroad. Ji­hadists or sym­pa­thiz­ers from Swe­den have been linked to sev­eral ter­ror­ist at­tacks in re­cent years, as a Swedish na­tional, Osama Krayem, has been charged with ter­ror­ist mur­ders over the 2016 Brus­sels metro bomb­ing.— AFP

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